What you need to know
Taiwan re-opened its Kuan Hung visa program for Vietnamese nationals this week, but the rules have been tightened following a high-profile case of missing Vietnamese tourists.
Beginning Mar. 20, Vietnamese are again able to travel to Taiwan under the Kuan Hung, or Quan Hồng in Vietnamese, visa.
On Mar. 3, Ho Chi Minh City tourism authorities announced that later this month, Taiwan will reinstate the special Kuan Hung visa application process for tourists from Vietnam, albeit with stricter requirements. The policy was suspended at the end of 2018 following a high-profile case involving the vanishing of 152 Vietnamese tourists during their stay on the island.
Taiwan first introduced the Kuan Hung policy in 2015 as an effort to strengthen ties with several South and Southeast Asia nations. It allows Vietnamese travelers to apply online and enter the country for 30 days, which was then reduced to 14. After the scandal, Taiwan's tourism authorities suspended the process for Vietnam, but now have reopened it.
The new changes will reduce the number of Vietnamese tourism agencies that tourists can use to obtain the visa after a re-screening and there will be an increase in the processing time to accommodate more thorough evaluations.
If more than three visitors overstay their visas or flee, the travel agency coordinating their trip will be banned for three months. If such incidences happen more than six times, they will be permanently unable to secure visas on behalf of clients. Moreover, additional representatives from the agencies will be required to travel with large groups.
Taiwan acknowledged that, when the program was abruptly stopped last year, it caused confusion and ruined travel plans while citing the need to more effectively crack down on people using false names or identities.
Regarding the missing tourists that triggered the changes, on Mar. 7, 2019, VnExpress reports that four people, two Taiwanese and two Vietnamese, have been charged with forging travel documents, breaching the Employment Service Act and violating the Human Trafficking Prevention law. They worked to illegally bring in the Vietnamese to allegedly work. In 2018, 65,000 Vietnamese traveled legally to Taiwan to work, accounting to nearly half the nation's overseas workforce.
The News Lens has been authorized to republish this article from Saigoneer, an English-language digital platform covering urban development, history, food, culture and the arts in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and throughout Vietnam. The original can be found here.
TNL Editor: Nick Aspinwall (@Nick1Aspinwall)
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